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Comprehension PassageIf economists were a bit more modest, they would admit that...


Comprehension Passage

If economists were a bit more modest, they would admit that no one knows exactly how many Nigerians there are. The National population Bureau estimated that there would be 116 million in 1986, but this figure was derived from projections based on the much disputed figures of the 1963 census, using an annual population growth rate that was at best a guess work. Notwithstanding that the margin of error could be as large as a plus 20 million; economists have still felt confident to speak of Nigeria's per capita income, birth and mortality rates literacy rate and so on, as if they were quoting precise figures.

So much Nigerians is determined on the basis of the population that the lack of accurate figures has a significantly adverse effect on policies. One obviously affected area is development planning, which for the lack of reliable data, frequently looks like an exercise in futility. An example of what happens is the country's Universal Primary Education (UPE) scheme launched in 1976. Policy makers had expected, on the basis of the 1975/76 primary school enrolment of just fewer than 5 million, that they would not have to cope with much more than 6 million school children in the first year. But the enrolment in 1976/77 turned out to be 8.4 million rising to 10.1 million the following year. The unanticipated cost of catering for the large number was the main cause of the collapse of that worth scheme after only four years.

Population also plays an important role in revenue allocation, specifically in the sharing of the states' portion of the Federation Account, some percentage of which is based on population or population-related factors. Because of the contentious nature of the subject, the compromise has been to estimate based on the 1963 census figures, even when such a move produces ridiculous situations. It is for all these reasons that the Babangida Administration's effort to ascertain the nation's population is such a worthwhile venture.

Precise national population figures are required in order to


A) Know the number of people to cater for in the Universal Primary Education programme

B) Be able to undertake proper implementation of governmental policies

C) Avert unanticipated expenditure

D) Be able to speak of population statistics with confidence

The correct answer is B.

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